Phantom Menace

September 1, 2007

The deadly menace in Geiger Counter is composed of two things:

  • a source (the origin of the menace and the key to its undoing), and
  • a method (the way in which it generally tries to kill people).

I’m not sure right now how to structure the way players decide on a general source. In the second GenCon playtest, we decided on “Native American spiritual stuff,” and the monster ended up being a mysterious force connected with a sacred mound. The source needs to be general enough that it can be uncovered in play, but specific enough that it gets everyone on something of the same page.

On the other hand, example methods might include:

  • elemental (the menace is a force of nature),
  • tooth & claw (the monster will rip you to pieces),
  • hearts & minds (the monster gets inside you),
  • will-o-wisp (the monster will lead you into deadly danger),
  • one of us (the monsters will claim you as its own), and
  • divide and conquer (the monster will turn you against each other).

Menace tactics often involve combining two methods. For example, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are arguably both “tooth & claw” (obviously) and “will-o-wisp” (leading the humans into the electrical shed, out into the storm, deeper into the park). The aliens in Aliens, on the other hand, are probably “tooth & claw” + “one of us” (or maybe “hearts & minds”).

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